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Last week, two leading environmental groups, the Pew Charitable Trusts environmental program and the National Environmental Trust, agreed to join forces. The merged entity, with 80 staffers and an annual budget topping $70 million, qualifies as one of the largest environmental advocacy organizations in the world.
"Our environmental efforts have delivered major successes over the past 20 years, but threats to the global environment have grown exponentially," Rebecca W. Rimel, president of the Pew Charitable Trusts, told reporters upon announcing the merger. "To better respond to the problems of global warming and the world’s rapidly deteriorating marine and terrestrial systems, we have been making major adjustments to our work, and this is one step in that process."
The decision to merge came with a commitment to focus attention on a few high-profile goals at a time. When joint operations commence next December, plans include working to overhaul the 1872 Mining Law and creating a network of marine reserves spanning the world’s oceans. The merger signifies a shift in Pew’s strategies from being primarily a grantmaking organization to one that operates on the ground through direct action campaigns.
According to Phil Clapp, who has served as National Environmental Trust’s president since its inception in 1994 and will serve as deputy managing director of the combined entity, the urgency of climate change and other key environmental questions call for marshalling as much strength as possible. "The challenges are so enormous and we have such a short window of time to solve the problem," Clapp says, "we decided we had to change the way we operate."